Exeter Cathedral

Jan Leeming

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Jan's Blog

Computers and the internet are amazing things. One of my concerns with putting together this site was that it could remain current, yet with all my travelling I've often much to say, but little time to say it. Years ago when reading the news it would take me days on end to reply to the kind letters people sent. Now, with the magic of the modern age, I can keep you up to date with what I'm doing and other events in my life.


Date: 21st December 2013

EXETER CATHEDRAL In the 70's, I lived in the West Country for a decade and am ashamed to say that I never even thought of a visit to Exeter Cathedral. Part of my 'Oldies tour' was to have my hair done in Bristol and to stay with friends in Crewkerne. Most of us don't like change and I am a creature of habit. Jean Mays has looked after my hair since 1969 - she's taken me through urchin cut to french pleat, from perm to straight, long to short and black to blonde. Obviously living in Kent, I don't go to her on a weekly basis but make a visit once every few months and combine it with a visit to my father and staying with various friends I still have around the West Country. I was very upset to learn that Jean has finally sold the business and I cannot imagine the salon without Miss Jean. At the moment, apart from Jean's healthy laugh, the salon is more or less the same because the staff have remained in situ but we will have to see if the business is as successful without Jean's guiding hand. The Salon was her baby and she nurtured her staff as if they were her own children. Anyway, my friends in Crewkerne decided to make a shopping trip to Exeter and, knowing my interest in Cathedrals, it was agreed that they'd go off to shop and I'd have a couple of hours at the Cathedral. I prefer to hire an Audio guide when visiting because I know from experience that Guided tours can be vary enormously according to the guide. After my fourth Audio guide failed because the batteries hadn't charged, I was obliged to join a guided tour and am very glad I did. We happened to have a really superb guide with the correct amount of information and humour to make the tour memorable. Exeter has very little original stained glass but it does have some stunning roof bosses one of which I would have missed had it not been for our guide Margaret. It depicts the scene of the murder of Thomas Becket and it is thought the boss is placed in the Cathedral because one of the knights who carried out the deed was a William de Tracey from Bradninch in Devon. (His grandfather was an illegitimate son of Henry 1) There's a fascinating piece of history about the family on the Wikipedia site. The four knights acted on words uttered by King Henry II whilst at his favourite castle in France, Chinon. His words were 'What miserable drones and traitors have I nurtured and promoted in my household who let their lord be treated with such shameful contempt by a low born clerk'. He did not say 'Who will rid me of this turbulent priest' and Becket was not low-born - he was the son of a Sheriff of London and what today we would call middle class. Henry was prone to rages and also getting his own way - whether he really wanted Becket murdered or not has and will always remain a subject for conjecture. Interestingly, none of the knights was ever brought to trial. Exeter also has several tombs called Memento Mori - we have one of the best examples in Canterbury which is the tomb of Archbishop Chichele. The tomb is two tier and shows the person in glory and underneath a cadaver - a reminder that however great or rich we are, at the end we all decay and end up as dust. The little granddaughter of one of our guides saw this particular tomb and said 'Oh look Granny - Bunk Beds!' I have made a little vow that I want to see all the English Cathedrals before I meet my maker and so far this year I haven't done badly having visited Winchester, Durham, Norwich, Ely, and Exeter. Although I visited Salisbury and Gloucester it was so long ago that I don't think I can tick them off the list without visiting again. My son's great grandfather was Bishop of Salisbury and he and his wife are buried in the Cloisters - Bishop and Mrs. Lunt. I've visited the Cathedral in Sydney but it is not that old and compared with our Cathedrals in the UK, not impressive. So, sitting here typing, in the distance I can see the top of the Harbour Bridge and the wings of the Opera House. And of course, it is warm and sunny. Can't say there's any competition between being here and back in Kent.


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